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Water: Black Market Economy of Eritrea

Four people were arrested on Monday in Asmara after they were caught selling water to citizens from a water tanker. It is illegal to supply water to homes and businesses without the approval of the Eritrean authorities. According to a resident of Asmara, “the government monopolizes water like other mineral resources, like the Bisha mines.”

Urban centers in Eritrea have been suffering from water shortage for many years. Most aquifers have long dried up and a negligible number of artesian wells remain operational, though they provide only scanty water.

The ground water reservoir has been severely depleted and water table has receded to its lowest level since the 1930s.

Most private owners have been trying to drill deeper in the hope of getting ample supply of fresh water, but still, they can only pump a little brackish water, “and that is after digging up to about ten-meters deep from the ground surface.”

People resort to giving the task of digging and drilling wells to unqualified people and that has led many injuries including death. Several people were killed or injured when the walls of the hole caved in drowning them in muddy water or burying them alive.

Such activities are done behind the back of the government that seals private wells with cement to prevent losing control over the supply of water.

According to a resident of Asmara, “the supply of water has gone underground and only those who have money can buy it on the black market, paying as much as 300-550 Nakfa per barrel.”

The average monthly salary of a national service conscript is around 500 Nakfa, approximately US$25.

Related Reading:
Eritrea Suffering From Persistent Water Shortage

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  • Haile

    ኣይላጸን ዝበለስ ቁማል ይብልዓዮ ሕጂ ብማይ ኣፎም ካብ ሓዞም ስቅ እንድሕሪ ኢሎም እንታይ ይገበር ሓምሽተ ሳንቲም ንባኒ ተወስኺዎ መንግስቲ ይቅይሩ። ናትና እሞ ደቆም ካብ ሕቅፎም እንዳወሰዶም ኣዋልዶም መጻወቲ ዕስቧት ወታደርት እንድኮና ስቅ ካብ ኮነ ሕጅስ እሳይስ ሓስባት ክውደኦ ቀሪቡ ብኸመይ ከም ዘሳቅዮ።

  • Abrehet Yosief

    Selam Aya Kokhob Selam,
    If it is any comfort, remember “necessity is the mother of innovation”. There are different exbitions duirng the annual festial celebration in Asmara. Part of this innovations by children. Their innovations, using locally available material, are mostly focused on the most pressing problems of that year. There was a year where you would see them showing solar panels (using aluminium foil) for lighting, then they came up with solar energy to pull buckets from water wells, then one came up with a way to save someone for a colapsing water well, and last year I saw one “dessalination” etc.

    • Kokhob Selam

      Selam Abrehet Yosief

      I never think that will help the cause..Look visit Ethiopian students how they became creative and full of industries with all the development.


  • Haile S.

    Dear Gedab news,
    Great reportage. Water shortage was one of the issues the leadership should have given priority from the begining. Not only micro-dams, the country needs Giant reservoirs.

    ማይ፡ መሬት፡ ንግዲ፡ ኤኮኖሚ ምስ ኮነ ሕዛእቲ
    ሰብ ምስ ተቖጽረ ዳርጋ ከብቲ
    ዘረዓይ ምስኮነ ወናኒ መንግስቲ
    ዘይተመርጸ ብዓዲ ብዓበይቲ
    ነገር ተበላሽኡ ካብ ከርሲ ሕምብርቲ።

    • Kokhob Selam

      Dear Haila S

      Why you didn’t post the above in Jebena page.???
      Oromay..you have done it anyhow !!


      • Haile S.

        Sorry Kokhob,
        I just thought this was my short direct reaction to Gedam News. ኣይጠለምኩም፡ መጻኹ.

    • Abrehet Yosief

      Selam Haile S.
      ኣንቱም ኣያ ሃይለ ብለባምኩም? ዲጋ ኢሉ ጦቕ ኣቢሉና ዘሎ ሰብኣይሲ Giant reservoirs ትውስኹሉ?

      • Haile S.

        ኣንቲ ኣብረሀት

        ደሓን እተዊ፡ ኣያ ኢልክኒ
        እንታይሞ ክገብር ዘረባ ከይዱኒ
        ዘበን ግርምቢጥ ማይ ንዓቐብ ኮይኑኒ
        ማይ ዝዛሪ ናብ ኣስመራ ካብ ዓዲ-ሓሎ / ተራ-እምኒ
        ስለዘይመሰለኒ ስለዘይተራእየኒ
        Anyway you are very funny
        ሕጂ ኣብዚ ኣግጢምኪ ምስ ኮኸብ ከይተባእስኒ

  • Selamat,
    Kisha teQedidu, beAll jirba mayy sankielo geirka zAkebkayo zingo zmerete sleztenkefe jirbakha anQuitSka kemm agoza teTTeQemelu. May Abajigo baElu nsu Trayy iyyu zEidll. WaHdi Hakeymm hmamm Migrain exceed geiru alo ‘behal alo. Excedrin. TsheAAte Hade Susua’s Hade tHalfaini ibllll
    Hopefully this link is permited?
    “‘ኣቶ ሓጎስ ገብርህይወት ዝገብሮ ዕድጊ ፍርቂ ናብ ጁብኡ ፍርቂ ናብ መንግስቲ ኢዩ ዝኣቱ’ ክብል ተሰሚዑ። ፕረዚደንት ኢሳያስ ሰባት ኣብ ዝነበሩሉ እዋን ከምኡ ክብል ዝመረጸሉ ምኽንያት ርዱእ ኣይኮነን።”

  • KBT

    Selamat Baal fake news
    Instead of waisting your time attacking the government of eritrea tha mt don t know you exist why you guys don’t do something productive.
    Exemple in Roma people have thrown in the street from their apartment
    So they to be from the opposition
    What program you guys have to helps them, so show us something for ones,give some credit

    • AboyTesfay

      Lately the supporters are blaming the delti fithi about people in Roma, where is the Eritrean ambassador in Italy? What has he done about the people you seem to care now?

      • KBT

        Selam aboytesfay
        What do you want the Eritrean embassy to do ?
        Didn’t they run away from Eritrea because life is impossible and because the government tortures?
        Leave the government alone and answer the question what is now the so called opposition is providing for this people?
        Any fund rising ?? Visiting them?? Or help them by sheltering them in their house ??
        It is time for you to show us that really you care for the people of Eritrea
        You guys cannot help those inside Eritrea if you can not provide anything those next to you ?
        Let see your humanity for once please

    • Kokhob Selam
      • KBT

        Selam Kokob
        Which government you talking about??
        By thank you for your advertising about Eritrean innovation and good education
        In Ethiopian university we can see the wonderful success story of Ethiopia
        And with all this innovative brain still starving right ???
        It s ok just keep advertising my friend no one is dump anymore.
        Save your people my friend ,it’s time to tell your government to came to it sence.

        • Kokhob Selam

          Dear KBT,

          The link was regarding your governmet- PFDJ leader show on dealing on gold issue corruption ..it was I think deleted by awate team..

          “It’s time to tell your government to came to it sense,,,,.”

          and inform to leave Eritrea before we march to Asmara


          • KBT

            Selam kokobe
            Really ??
            Do you look into your house first ?? You make laugh her
            Eh your people have the same problem in Rome go provide something
            Instead of wasting time her help your people